Adjunct Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Arturo Hale, Science Education ProgramBy mst • Jan 30th, 2013 • Category: Science Education
The Mathematics, Science, and Technology Department has welcomed Dr. Arturo Hale as a new adjunct science faculty member this year. He is currently teaching Concepts of Physics I & II. He also teaches conceptual physics at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan.
Dr. Hale was born and raised in Mexico City. He came to the United States as a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, studying chemical engineering and material science.
His father was a self-trained chemist who would buy his children scientific magazines and toys that foster science skills and interest. As a child he was interested in chemistry and physics. He can recall cooking with his mother and this piqued his scientific curiosity. He wanted to know what would happen to the final product if he altered the recipe.
In high school, he recalls tutoring students in science and this sparked his interest in science education. This was one of his first experiences teaching and the students performed well as a result of his tutoring efforts.
He studied chemical engineering in college. After college his first job was as a high school science teacher in Mexico. His interest was split between education and research, at the end of his one-year position he began his doctorate program in chemical engineering.
Following his graduation from the University of Minnesota, he continued his research at Bell Laboratories, conducting applied research in fiber optics, microelectronics, material science, and photonics. During this time he further developed his interest in science education.
While conducting research, he was involved in various outreach programs sponsored by Bell Laboratories. The company wanted to increase diversity in the field; this allowed Dr. Hale the opportunity to engage in mentoring activities at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. At the high school level, he mentored students and helped them with their science projects. Bell Laboratories offered summer undergraduate research internships and Dr. Hale often hosted summer interns in his laboratory. Underrepresented minority graduate students were given fellowships and Dr. Hale was able to provide some of those students with research advisement.
Through these outreach programs his interest for teaching grew. In addition to his research position at Bell Laboratories, Dr. Hale began to investigate the possibility of becoming a teacher at the secondary level. He decided to earn a master’s degree in science education with certification at TC. During his student teaching assignment Dr. Hale was offered a position as a science teacher at a local high school and he transitioned to Bell Laboratories to high school science teacher in 2006.
Dr. Hale recounts a rewarding student experience at Teachers College, “I wasn’t sure how easily I would adapt after being so many years out of school. It was great! I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge from both the caliber of the teachers and my classmates. I really enjoyed it.” Prior to the course he took with Professor Anderson in biochemistry, biology was an experience of memorization for Professor Hale. Professor Anderson modeled inquiry-based and analytic study of the biological sciences, which was an eye-opening experience for Dr. Hale. He was captivated by the finesse and elegance of biochemical processes, as opposed to the “brute force” of industrial chemistry. In his Concepts of Physics I & II courses at TC, the discussions in his course allow for an even exchange of experience and practice in the field of science from Dr. Hale and his students, some of whom are current science teachers.
In his teaching practice, Dr. Hale strives to make physics relevant, interesting, and accessible to all. Physics has the stigma of being a very difficult subject, reserved only for the gifted. Dr. Hale wants to combat this stigma by demonstrating to his students that most concepts in physics are within anyone’s reach. Moreover, the concepts learned and critical thinking skills developed are important for fields as diverse as policy-making and art; science is no longer just for the scientist. Dr. Hale has had the opportunity to teach science electives at Bard High School Early-College, one of which was the Physics of Music. As part of the students’ study of the properties of strings, the students in the course constructed a guitar with one string. The students were so proud of their design that the students used their instruments to perform at the school’s café.
Dr. Hale manages a busy schedule teaching in two locations in New York City and fulfilling his family responsibilities. He has a young son and a girlfriend whom he spends as much time with as possible. Dr. Hale’s secondary teaching schedule is the same as his son’s school schedule; this allows him to spend valuable time with his son during school breaks and holidays. He describes his summer break as, “ ‘Papi camp,’ where I take my son swimming, we visit museums, and bike in the park.” Dr. Hale has a rich background in science and his energy as a science educator is invaluable.
By Deiana Jackson, Graduate Student, Mathematics Education Ed.D.